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I know what a moderator does but I've never understood – what's in it for them?

  • Do they get paid by Stack Exchange?
  • Do they get offered jobs after months of willing service?
  • Does the dedication look amazing on a resumé?
  • Is this a subjective question?
  • Are some of them employees of Stack Exchange?
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    I volunteered because I love being called a Nazi. Also, partial dupe of meta.stackexchange.com/questions/169205 – user1228 Dec 9 '16 at 14:53
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    One of the standard questions asked during elections is "why do you want to be a moderator?". In addition to the good info already provided in Seth's answer, you could review what candidates themselves have said about this. – Monica Cellio Dec 9 '16 at 15:40
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    Well, why would someone be a volunteer cop? Or anything? – John Militer Dec 10 '16 at 23:20
  • @John I imagine lots of reasons, that I'm interested to hear! :) – Djave Dec 11 '16 at 13:07
  • Very well then, I guess that it just feels good to help out. People give to the poor because they feel good about helping tgem, and become more satisfied with themselves. One might want to be a volunteer cop because they like the idea of making the world a better place, and they feel good about it paid or no pay. Moderators are kind of like the stack exchange version of cops. They probably help out for similar reasons. – John Militer Dec 12 '16 at 3:15
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Disclaimer: There are three general types of moderators, pro-tempore (temporary) moderators, elected ones and SE-employees. Elected moderators have the moderator status only for the site they were elected on, whilst SE-employees have a network-wide moderator status.

Pro-Tempore moderators are chosen when a site-proposal (on the Area51-SE-community) gets "approved". These moderators serve until the site leaves the beta-phase (and, maybe, longer, if they get elected afterwards). Thanks to Chenmunka for pointing that out.

Do they get paid by Stack Exchange?

They do not receive any money from SE. It's voluntarily, and you don't get rewarded (in a material sense, that is). I'm not too sure about that though, the mods might receive some SO swag.

The SE employees (hopefully) get paid, this is about the elected moderators.

Do they get offered jobs after months of willing service?

Some moderators had that happen IIRC, I highly doubt that that's a standard though. A few of the community managers used to be elected moderators.

Does the dedication look amazing on a resumé?

Considering that the Stack-Exchange-Network is well established by now, I'd assume it does. It (probably) won't look bad. :)

Is this a subjective question?

Partly. No-one really knows what's going on in the mind of someone else if they appeal for moderator status. Some people might try to get it simply to have more power, others might feel the "need" to repay Stack Overflow for the help it has provided them.

Are some of them employees of Stack Exchange?

Yes. There are elected moderators, and there are SE moderators.


Getting to the "actual" question:

The moderator-status comes with a few perks, one of them being access to additional privileges/tools. It also comes with drawbacks though, you have to dedicate a lot of time, and you carry a lot of responsibility.

If a regular user sees a post as spam, he flags it, which will not carry an immediate penalty for the post/author, except if it is the last flag required for deletion. If a moderator decides that a post is spam, he nukes it. Basically, your decision carries a lot more weight. A "bad" flag won't really affect you, a "bad" nuke will certainly get you some meta-attention.

I suppose not few have tried to become a moderator simply for the sake of getting access to said tools, but I think most people that volunteer for this are community members that want to help making the Stack Exchange network a better place.

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    The SE employees (hopefully) get paid. Expect waffles ... – rene Dec 9 '16 at 12:35
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    @rene What else would you pay rainbow-riding unicorns with? Money? Tsk – Seth Dec 9 '16 at 12:52
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    You left out pro-tempore moderators. The moderators on the beta sites are not elected but are also not SE staff. – Chenmunka Dec 9 '16 at 13:33
  • I am in limbo! I don't exist! – Catija Dec 9 '16 at 13:51
  • @Chenmunka Very good point about pro-tempore. By the way, how does one become a pro-tempore moderator? Just curious. – Aleks G Dec 9 '16 at 23:37
  • @Chenmunka Thanks for the heads-up! – Seth Dec 10 '16 at 23:01
  • @AleksG It's explained in this blog-post :) – Seth Dec 10 '16 at 23:03
  • @Seth Cheers! Thanks for that – Aleks G Dec 10 '16 at 23:28
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I stepped up because I want to help keep the site clean. As users gain more reputation and privileges, they can do more moderation activities, like flagging, closing, and deleting. Those actions have to be approved by fellow users or a moderator before going into effect. For example, it makes me a little sad to see non-answers because though I can flag them, it takes time for the flag to be processed and the problem removed. A moderator action can save everyone the time and deal with the problem decisively.

There's not much in the way of material reward, but that's just fine - it's made very clear that moderation is a volunteer role. We do get a cool hat, though.

Some former moderators have been hired by Stack Exchange (usually as community managers or developers), but there's no official "path" to employment from moderatorship, and you don't have to be a moderator to get hired. When a moderator is hired, their attention is diverted to their new job; it is my understanding that they spend far less time on normal moderation than on carrying out their paid role.

As for résumés, being a moderator involves some leadership (in addition to janitoring), so it certainly can't hurt to mention to possible employers.

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